Future English

‘S arrived into my life likea a train wreck. /sə.’ɹ̠avʔ inʔ ma ‘lajef ‘lajegə ə tə’ren ɹ̠æʔ/

— The Centuries Unlimited.

The development of American English from 1900 to 2100 is characterized by phonological simplification, a shift toward isolating sentence structure, and the expansion of vocabulary. Major internal influences shift from London, England to the American Northeast to California to Black English and Spanglish to Globish to Krio and Inuklish. Major external influences shift from French to Spanish to Mandarin and Hindustani to Russian and KiSwahili.

Improvements in literacy, mass media, telecommunications, and transportation tend to standardize language from 1900 to 2000, while from 2000 to 2100, descriptivism, social networks, real-time spellchecking/translation, proxying/teleportation, and constructed personalities cause diversification.

Code-switching to indicate high education versus in-group solidarity leads people to adopt respectively more or fewer constructions from outside (for example “walk around” vrs. “perambulate”). Outslang (as it is most commonly called in 2100) indicates international education and a positive view of science and technology, while Inslang indicates group loyalty and homely charm.


1850-1950 Chicago upper class

She came into my life like a train wreck.

/ʃi ke:m ‘ɪntə mɑɪ lɑɪf lɑɪk a tɹe:n wɹɛk/

1950-2050 Chicago educated class

She came into my life like a train wreck.

/ʃɪ kʰejəm n̩t maə laəf laəkʰ ə tʃɹɛən ɹɜk/

2050-2150 Chicago outslang class

‘S arrived into my life likea a train wreck.

/sə.’ɹ̠avʔ inʔ ma ‘lajef ‘lajegə ə tə’ren ɹ̠æʔ/

Note that many alternate forms may be used by the same people at the same point in history. The changes documented below are only trends.


In general, Outslang is more conservative, but sometimes introduces novelty through calques (usually from Spanish or other European languages, occasionally from Mandarin and Hindi)

Pronoun plural marking. You all, They all (them all, she all, he all), We all (exclusive), all us (inclusive), us all (exclusive) Who all, What all

Plural oblique marking. All you, all them, all us

Third person pronoun fusion. He/him, she/her, they/them > They > ‘S

Pro-drop, progressive copula reanalysis as subject particle: “I’m walking” > “‘M walking”, “You’re getting arrested” > “‘R getting arrested,” “He’s being a jerk” > “S’ being a fobe” (subject marker is dropped when it is clear from context, e.g. “Vivek angry. Being a fobe.”)

Expansion of progressive aspect. Verbs become progressive by default: “‘S always doing this” rather than “He always does this.” Approaching the 2100s, this includes stative be: “‘S always being a fobe” rather than “He is a jerk.”

Copula drop: “‘S angry” rather than “He is angry” (implying an unintentional condition, contrasting with “‘S being angry,” which implies some intent on the actor’s part)

Alternate past form: “Used to” replacing now largely silent -ed past ending. Used to > yoozda > yud(a)

Negative form reduction: “am/are/is not” replaced by “ain’t”, then just “not” (e.g. “I not a crook” ‘S not coming.”)

Subjunctive to conditional shift: “If I were to…, it would….” > “If I did…, it would…” > “If I would…, it would… (privot) > If d’…d’… (inslang), In case I’d (outslang)

Replacement of -ing genrunds with nouns: “I love planning” > “I love plans (or plannification)”

“Get” Passives: “I am pleased.” > “I pleased” to indicate a state. “I get pleased” > “I getting pleased” to indicate a change in state.

Person vrs. Non-person possessive constructions: The actions of the person, the actions of the economy> The person’s actions, The actions of the economy (outslang), The economy actions (inslang)

Relative clauses: The person who did, The rock which did> The person/rock that did> The person did

Bare generic nouns: “Telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell” “Stork nesting in trees.”

Analytical comparatives and superlatives: (green >) bigger, biggest > more big, most big ever (outslang)

Topic-introducing preposition: As far as X is concerned > As far as X > Fars X

Future forms: shall V, will V > will V, be going to V > Be gonna V > a-V (inslang), go V (outslang)

Prepositional verbs: the park around which I walk > the park I walk around

Transitive particle: (Time>) I listen to music, I look at the person, I eat the sandwich > I listen’t music, I look’t the person, I eat’t the sandwich (and I eat’em the sandwiches)

Question particle: What is this? > What this? > What this, huh?

Other particles: …or what? > or?

Discriminatory back-shift

two-syllable nouns accented on first syllable

two-syllable verbs accented on second syllable

to reBEL, a REBel

Uncommon irregular verb regularization: (inslang)

Wed > wedded, wrought > wreaked, knelt > kneeled, bled>bleeded

Past participle/past tense fusion: run/ran/run > run/ran/ran, come/came/come > come/came/came (outslang)

Common irregular verb reanalysis: (inslang)

-ite/-it/-it: light/lit/lit, bite/bit/bit, fight/fit/fit, glide/glid/glid

-t/-t/-t: put/put/put, fit/fit/fit, grit/grit/grit, shit/shit/shit (all with short vowels)

-d/-d/-d: bid/bid/bid, fend/fend/fend, dread/dread/dread (all with short vowels)

-in/-un/-un: win/won/won, ring/rung/rung, sing/sung/sung, swim/swum/swum, bring/brung/brung, sink/sunk/sunk, think/thunk/thunk

-eeze, ise/-oze/-ozen: freeze/froze/frozen, squeeze/squoze/squozen, rise/rose/rosen

-ive/-ove/-ove: drive/drove/drove, dive/dove/dove, strive/strove/strove, thrive/throve/throve

eek/-uck/-uck: sneak/snuck/snuck, peek/puck/puck, leak/luck/luck

ay/-aid/-aid: pay/paid/paid, lay/laid/laid

Transitive/intransitive pair collapse: lie/lay > lay, sit/set > set, rise/raise > rise

Must V (for necessities) (Knickerbocker) > Have to V (kennedy)> Got to V (shock) > Gotta V, Need to (Crisis, Pivot) V > Ga-V (inslang), needa V (inslang) (Green, time, present), Have it to V (outslang) (time, present)

May V>might V (inslang), maybe V (outslang)

Ought to V > Should V

Might V > Should V

Would V > Used to V > Usta V > Sta-V

Would like to V > want to V > wanna V > wan-V

Be to V > Be supposed to V > sposeda V

A N to V > a N that we can V

him and me > him and I (Crisis, Pivot) > him and me (Green)




iː ɪ > e, iN uː > ʉ ʊ > ʌ

ɛ > æ, ɪjəN ə > 0C, C0, ə ɔː > a

æ > jæ, ejəN ʌ > ɜ ɑː, ɔ > a

eɪ > e: aɪ,ae > ajeT, aD/0 ɔe > ɔwə aʊ, ao > awə oʊ > ewə

ɪə > ejə eə > ejə əɹ̠ > ə ( ʌ if accented)



tj > tʃ

dj > dʒ

kj > x

gj > ɣ

pj > ɸ

bj > β

front vowel h-drop

hi,he,hj > i, e, j


Intervocalic stop voicing.

VtV > VdV

VkV > VgV

VpV > VbV


Word-final sibilent metathesis

Vs/z/+t/d/k/g/p/b > Vt/d/k/g/p/b+s/z/


Word-final stop glottalization

Vt/d/k/g/p/b > Vʔ


Unvoiced word-initial stop affrication.

t- > ts- > s- (sʃ > ʃ)

k- > kx->x-

p- > pɸ- >ɸ- (pβ > β)

Word-initial stop devoicing.

d- > t-

g- > k-

b- > p-


R-effected stop affrication

tɹ̠ > tʃɹ̠

dɹ̠ > dʒɹ̠

kɹ̠ > kxɹ̠

gɹ̠ > gɣɹ̠

pɹ̠ > pɸɹ̠

bɹ̠ > bβɹ̠


Sibiliant-effected deletion of labiodentals

sθ > s

zð > z

Dentalization of initial labiodental fricatives

θ- > t-

ð- > d-


Final velar nasal labiolization

Vŋ > Vn


Voiceless-stop-effected nasal syllabication and stop deletion





R drop

Vr > VV

L dropping

Vl > V(backing)

word-final W drop

Vw >V(backing)


Word-final Nasalization


nasal shwa > n̩

ʌN > ã

ɜN > ẽ


Outslang (also used for emphasis)


iː ɪ > i uː > ju ʊ > u:

ɛ > e ə > 0C, C0, ə ɔː > a

æ > a ʌ > ə, u ɑ > a

eɪ > eji aɪ >aji ɔɪ > oji aʊ > awu oʊ >o

(ɪə) > ijə (eə)

Initial and medial R-trilling

ɹ̠V/Vɹ̠V > rV/VrV

Coda R dropping


Word-initial sibilant epenthesis

s/z/ʃ/ʒ > əs/ əz/əʃ/əʒ

Consonant cluster schwa-epenthesis:

stɹ̠ > əsətər

Glide-voicing: (except in glides generated by vowel shift)

J > i

W > u

Intervocalic stop devoicing

VdV > VtV

VgV > VkV

VbV > VpV

Word-final stop affrication

Vt > Vts

Vk > Vkx

Vp > Vpɸ

Word-final stop devoicing

Vd >Vt

Vg > Vk

Vb > Vp


Thanks animate-mush, official-data, tropylium, and Nikolay Kilyachkov, Words on the Move by John McWhorter, and http://public.oed.com/aspects-of-english/english-in-time/twentieth-century-english-an-overview/

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